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Old 06-22-2015   #21
Louisville, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 520
If your boy has rowed the bulk of the rapids of the rivers you mention, the Arkansas will be great. If he hasn't I wouldn't start him out there. Coming from CA, I'd start in Glenwood. If he is a rock star, jump right in to Shoshone. If he is intimidated ( you can see the whole run from the interstate) do the short run from Grizzly Creek, then step it up to the lower Roaring Fork, then Shoshone. All of these runs can be bike shuttled. Then you can decide whether you want the Ark or the upper C. There are miles of roadside, bike shuttle, water on each, with the Ark having lots more rocks to dodge and more whitewater. Both Browns (ark) and Pumphouse (Upper C) will be crowded on weekends in July. Browns will be very busy with large fleets of commercial rafts. Pumphouse is more private groups intent on a party. Another option would be to head towards the Animas in Durango, or maybe the upper San Juan out of Pagosa assuming they are running. You could also day trip Westwater in UT if you can get a permit and have the required gear. Bet a weekday Westy day trip is pretty easy to come by. It has class IV, but it would be an amazing end of trip event for a kid who had been building his confidence. I'd say stay away unless it is below 10k cfs.

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Old 06-22-2015   #22
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 244
westwater class IV? who knew!

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Old 06-22-2015   #23
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 728
Perhaps this teenager is a prodigy on the oars, Ya that happens, and if so, congratulations and go nuts, shoot take him to royal gorge and the upper animas.

But 6 trips with what is likely some practice on the oars does not qualify the kid to take on the stretches folks are recommending here. He rowed the entire middle fork of the Salmon? Which stretch of the green? What were the levels? We're they crowded? You coming July 1 or 31, that will make a huge difference in flows this year.

To over estimate the ability of a teenager to row Browns or Shoshone at July flows with 10' oars could be disaster. To throw him to the dogs on a summer day with the crowds in Those sections is foolish and asking for trouble. Some people actually suggested fractions or westwater would be ok. Seriously? And I'm only talking about summer flows, and we can expect above avg flows well into July.

I'm all for getting the kids on the oars, but you should be realistic in the expectations and conditions of the stretches you choose. There are plenty of parts of all the mentioned sections appropriate for the kid, but the dad is the TL, and his job is to assess it and make sure nobody is in over their head.

All I'm saying is make sure you understand the skills attained and the skills necessary to keep it safe. I'm a dad with two teenagers who are skilled and experienced, but that does not make them ready to start rowing class III rivers among dozens of other boats on busy summer days. So be careful in what advice you heed. Including my 2 worth.

Best of luck and enjoy your trip regardless!
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Old 06-22-2015   #24
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 244
nobody said he was going by himself. his dad will be with him to coach, or i assume jump on the oars if it is not going well.
and by the last day of july, the water will not be any where near what it is now, perhaps above average. but what does that mean?

shoshone is not a big deal, if it were running 4500 to 7000 then yes, it could be a bit much. but i have done it in an innertube with a few pabsts at 1600!
at that time of year, the air temps are good, the water temps are good, flows will be pretty low.

relax with the doom and gloom!
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Old 06-22-2015   #25
Grand Disfunction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 37
If westwater is flowing between 8000 and 18000 cfs it is no place for someone with limited experience. Above that it flushes, skull and the magnetic wall can be problematic down as low as 3500
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Old 06-23-2015   #26
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 728
The 'doom and gloom' stems from the dozen deaths so far this season in Colorado alone. One could guess that many were the result of underestimating ones skills and abilities when dealing with the current conditions. It can be exacerbated by people giving irresponsible advice like "it's fine for a 13 yo to row Browns and Shoshone with just 6 trips under his belt."

Please continue to err to the side of caution and safety, water is dropping, but it's still cranking.
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Old 06-23-2015   #27
Castle Rock, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 191
Lots of good advice here. My comments come from perspective of being a newer boater myself (< 5 years). You know your son's skills better than anyone commenting here, but 2 comments:

1) Ark - There are lots of different runs with a variety of levels. If Browns is too hard for him, Stone Bridge to Rincon. You won't be "stuck" if you over or under estimate his skills as there is everytyhing from easy class II to difficult Class IV. Go to AHRA website to get details of what rapids are on what sections so you know what you are getting yourself into. The Ark is the easiest river to get information on as well. You certainly won't have a lot of solitude, but I never mind that - if anything, it's reassuring to new boaters to have others around (not that you should rely on others and take unnecessary risks).

2) I would strongly suggest you not let him run Brown's or Fractions without you running it first at the oars so you can judge it. Lots of exposed rocks in late July and a wrap is always possible, especially with a big oar boat where being "nimble" can be difficult. I've only run Browns twice at levels < 1200 in an oar boat and I can tell you I once nearly knocked my teeth out when my oar kicked back into my face when I didn't get it pulled in quite quick enough and it hit a rock. While I'm sure some of the more experienced boaters may snicker at that comment, I have a 14 year old of my own and there is no way I want him having a really awful experience at that age. Also, keep in mind that as the water recedes, there are some places where you really need to make quick moves to hit certain lines. I wonder how a 13 year old would handle this (even from a strength perspective). My key point is you run it first and then judge it.
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Old 06-24-2015   #28
westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 92
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 36

Originally Posted by DoStep View Post
The most important factor in the OP was that a 13 year old will be rowing.

I can't justify recommending Browns, Shoshone, or upper c (for different reasons) for that. Canyon doors, widow maker, and raft ripper for a 13 yo?There is a deadly dam in the class 2 stretch just above Salida, I wouldn't put that responsibility on a teenager. Bear creek and even the takeout on the rincon stretch will be challenging, and that is at summer flows, which this year happen to be historic throughout the state and above avg. flows will continue thru August.

I'm only suggesting you consider that advice from this forum should be considered suspect while you plan the trip.

My suspect advice is that Ruby/Horsethief would be just what you are looking for. You could even do your own bike shuttle on the kokepelli trail. The channel is safe and 10' oars won't be a problem like they would on the other stretches mentioned. 3 days and 2 nights, and prob another night if you do bike shuttle, cuz that'll be a full day. sounds like all you need are a couple dry bags and a shitter/firepan (rentable).

If you really don't want overnighters, look at lower roaring fork and grizzly/Glenwood on the colorado for appropriate teenager-led day trips. You will find ample Mtn biking in those areas.

Just make sure you know what you are getting into on the rafting segment of your trip if you want the teenager to have a good learning experience.
Too much too soon on Ark this Spring..its only at +_ 20 yr highs..
13? Maybe if he's a linebacker on the JV squad. Big drop? Canyon door 2? If you're reading these posts - old school rafters are swimming left & right.
Hit Pumphouse.
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Old 06-24-2015   #29
westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 92
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 36
Dave Frank - we'll be in Browns all weekend...love to hang.. Give me a call 3-895-8282
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Old 06-24-2015   #30
Grand Disfunction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 37
Moab daily might be a good one, not in CO but close

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